The Badgers opened their season with a bang last week in Cedar Falls, Iowa at the Ramada UNI-Dome Classic, coming away with a perfect 4-0 record. Led by senior center fielder Chloe Miller, who batted .615 for the tournament, Wisconsin faced little trouble on their way to the tournament title.
The Badgers faced Northern Iowa, the host team and toughest opponent of the group, in the opening game of the tournament. Wisconsin scored the contest’s only run in the top of the first thanks to a single down the right field line by senior first baseman Sara Novak, driving in Kelsey Jenkins, who led off the season with a single and then advanced to second on a groundout. From then on it was a defensive battle, as the Badgers failed to record another hit, while only allowing the Panthers four. Freshman pitcher Kaitlyn Menz was outstanding in her first career start, going the distance and allowing no runs in a difficult road environment. She recorded eight strikeouts, including three swinging K’s to end the game.
While game one was a close pitchers duel, the Badgers had no trouble putting runs on the board against their next two opponents, Nebraska-Omaha and Toledo. Wisconsin rolled through UNO, tallying eight runs on 10 hits on the way to a shutout victory that ended in the sixth inning due to the mercy run rule. Kaitlyn Menz pitched another great game, surrendering only two hits and striking out four in four innings of work, grabbing her second win of the season. However, Chloe Miller was without a doubt the game’s MVP, going 4-4 with three RBI, including a home run in the fourth inning that helped blow the game open.
Later that same day, Wisconsin was challenged by a tough Toledo squad that gave them all they could handle, but the Badgers still came away with a gutsy 10-7 victory. The Rockets held a 3-0 lead after three innings, but Wisconsin found their bats soon after and put up 10 consecutive runs behind timely hitting from Melanie Cross and Chloe Miller. Toledo managed to put up four runs in the top of the seventh to tighten it up, but sophomore Angela Morrow recovered in time to seal the victory and record her first save of the season.
The Badgers’ final game of the tournament against Drake resembled their first: a low scoring pitcher’s duel. Entering extra innings, each team had only plated one run. However, timely offense would once again lead the Badgers to victory, as they scored three runs in the top of the eighth off a defensive error by Drake and a home run by Kelsey Jenkins, her first hit of the game. Kaitlyn Menz pitched yet another outstanding game, grabbing her third win of the tournament.
The Badgers start up again on the 16th, when they travel to Tampa for a double header against University of South Florida and Binghamton University. Hopefully, the momentum from their fabulous tournament performance will carry over and lead to more success in Florida.